A boutique hotel on the island of Mykonos has become the first and only in Greece to market itself as fully vegan. From the spa to the Mediterranean menu, everything at the hotel is plant-based.
Located in Ano Mera, Mykonos, Koukoumi hotel plans to open its doors this summer. The hotel has been designed to fit within traditional Myconian architecture and has 14 suites in total. The founders’ philosophy prioritises sustainability on every front, with a vegan menu, eco-friendly mattresses, solar powered water heaters and even a magnesium pool. Spa therapists also provide vegan beauty treatments and daily group exercise classes take place in the fitness centre to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Koukoumi will offer two bespoke packages, the ‘Detox package’ and the ‘Energy Boost’ package which are both full-board stays spread over five days.
Georgia Kontiza, founder of Koukoumi, tells euronews Living of her belief that we should "enjoy life without harming animals, the environment, or ourselves.” It’s an alternative and peaceful place she says, for visitors from all around the world to come and seek refuge.
What’s on the all-vegan menu?
Koukoumi’s vegan cuisine is Greek-inspired and is made up of exclusively vegan and raw food. For breakfast, the bread and cakes are baked in house and daily meals include soups, salads, fresh pasta, vegan burgers, pizzas and poke bowls.
So, no seafood, cheese, or eggs in sight.
Is veganism in hospitality on the rise?
According to one industry-led article in January of this year, the two trends set to shape hospitality and catering in 2020 are sustainability and veganism. Having vegan options on the menu has even been described as a “moral responsibility”.
A study undertaken at Harvard University in the US found that a vegan diet can benefit both health and the environment. By avoiding dairy, meat and fish, and instead focusing your diet around vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains, we may live longer as a result and have a lower risk of developing heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
But aside from health, veganism is also good for the planet, says Professor Walter Willett at Harvard. “Cattle grazing generates massive amounts of methane and carbon dioxide, both of which are potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change,” he explains.
From McDonald’s and Greggs in the UK to Michelin star dining in Europe, more and more restaurants are opting to include vegan and vegetarian meals. Some educational establishments such as the University of Cambridge are even removing all beef and lamb from their menus altogether, in favour of plant-based options. Pioneering chefs like Pietro Leemann in Milan and Alain Passard are leading the way to a plant-based future, by inspiring meat-eating diners to go for vegan options simply based on quality and taste.
We spoke to Meredith Marin, founder and CEO of Vegan Hospitality to find out more about the industry in general.
“When we first started working with hotels to attract vegan guests, it was the wellness and sustainability oriented hotels jumping at the opportunity. Now, we see mainstream hotel groups adding plant based burgers to their snack bars, planning vegan brunch menus, and sourcing vegan wines."
Based on the company's research, Marin predicts more hotels will be serving plant based menus within the next two decades due to rising customer demand. "Beyond what’s on their plates, guests are becoming increasingly aware of the animal cruelty and eco-damage involved in hotel cleaning products, room furniture and linens. The most sustainable hotels of the future will be mindful of not only where they source their food, but also everything else they purchase for guests.”
Which country has the most vegans in Europe?
There were 11,655 vegan food and drink businesses launched in Europe in 2019, an increase of 93 per cent from 2016, according to The Vegan Society. Germany is now among global leaders when it comes to vegan product development. Berlin has been called “the most vegan-friendly city in the world” boasting around 600 veggie restaurants around the capital.
In Italy, around half of consumers say they are lowering their red meat and over in the UK, Bristol is vying for the top spot as the new “world-wide vegan capital.”
"Veganism is one of the fastest growing lifestyle movements in the world, so it's no surprise that fully vegan hotels are appearing to accommodate the ever increasing number of vegans worldwide,” Matt Turner, spokesperson for the Vegan Society told euronews Living.
Many pubs, restaurants and hotels in the UK for example have embraced vegan dishes over the last few years, he goes on, but there are still some independent businesses that haven’t caught up with the growing demand. As a result, they are “missing out on sales.”
It just shows “how far veganism has come”, he concludes, it’s now recognised as a “mainstream lifestyle choice.”